How Long Might It Take to Resolve a Case Involving Injuries from a Dog Bite?
Interviewer: As far as the whole process goes, how long could that potentially take?
Stephen Boutros: There’s going to be the initial treatment after the attack and that length of time depends on the severity of the attack. We had a woman who was viciously attacked by a pit bull and was hospitalized and had to undergo multiple surgeries to repair the tissues that were damaged. She had to have close up wounds and things of that nature. That was one part of the treatment. Then she also had a great deal of nerve damage, which is also common with dog bites, by the way.
When those fangs go in to the flesh, there’s not just flesh there, there’s also nerves. After that initial treatment of the wounds themselves, then there has to be some time for healing depending on the severity of the wound. Obviously the more severe, the more time it takes to heal.
It takes some time before a plastic surgeon can accurately determine what future care will be needed to aesthetically treat the scarring. It just depends on the severity of the wounds.
What If You Are Attacked by a Feral Dog?
Interviewer: What if it was a situation where the dog did not have an owner, it was a wild dog and it was roaming the streets.
Any Avenue for Recovery in an Attack from a Feral Dog Depends on Where the Attack Took Place
Stephen Boutros: There’s going to be almost no avenue for recovery in that situation. The one time there would be is if you are in an apartment complex. The apartment complex knew that unsecured, wild dogs were on its premises, now you have a business that would have a responsibility, a legal responsibility, for an unreasonably dangerous condition on their premises. The dangerous condition would be an unsecured, dangerous dog.
So you can maybe go after the business. But if you’re just on the street or in your neighborhood or a park and there’s no owner to the dog, then there’s going to be no avenue to recovery.
Do Owners of Vicious Dogs Face Criminal Charges after an Attack?
Interviewer: What happens to breeders of dangerous animals?
Stephen Boutros: Unless that breeder is still owning and controlling the animal at the time of the bite, it would be very hard to establish liability against a breeder of a dangerous animal who didn’t actually own or control it at the time of the attack.
Interviewer: Are there any instances where the owner may be facing criminal charges?
Stephen Boutros: It would depend on intent. If the owner had any intent for the animal to attack, then that would open up the avenue for criminal charges. Generally, in the personal injury world, the accusations that we make are limited to negligence and gross negligence.
This is because if you get in to intentional acts, then you void out insurance coverage. There could be a situation where it could be a criminal context, but what we generally see is negligence and gross negligence.
Dog Attacks and Children
Interviewer: What were to happen if a dog attack were to happen to a minor? Does that make any difference?
Stephen Boutros: Yes. This is because a parent is legally responsible for a minor’s bills up until their eighteenth birthday. But a parent also has a legal duty to do what’s in the best interest of their child. The way that those cases work are, the parent will come hire us in their individual capacity for the child’s past medical bills, bills up to the eighteenth birthday.
With the Exception of Medical Bills, Any Recovery Is Put in Trust for the Minor
They file on behalf of the child, because the child owns the damages for the pain and suffering that they’ve suffered, mental anguish, disfigurement, impairment, things of that nature. But the money for a minor, except for past medical bills, will be put in to trust so that it’s protected until the minor becomes an adult.
This is done because you don’t want parents absconding with money that was designed to compensate the minor for their personal damages.